Rankfest: Halloween

Halloween is coming… Well, almost. Sometimes I love this series more than Elm Street, sometimes not. It can be infuriating as we shall see…

10th best: Season of the Witch (1983)

halloween iii season of the witch pumpkin kid mask

Three more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween… DIE.

Maybe because it’s not a slasher film? Yes and no. I certainly wasn’t expecting what I got when I pushed in a dusty old video cassette sometime in the mid-90s and have only watched the film once since then. It does nothing for me.

Best Bit: The guts to off a kid must be admired, when said brat’s possessed mask turns his head to mush.

9th: Halloween II (2009)

halloween ii 2009

Rob Zombie said he wouldn’t make another Halloween film after his 2007 re-thingy. Then did. With very little material from Rick Rosenthal’s ’81 film recycled (there’s a brief hospital dream-in-a-dream bit), Zombie goes off to explore Laurie’s psychosis (she’s an emo bitch), her relationships with other survivors (she’s a bitch to them), and something about her and Michael’s mother as a ghost. Any excuse to crowbar Sherrie Moon into proceedings. Meanwhile, Loomis has become a fame-whore. The result is a grimy, depressing flick.

Best Bit: The father of a victim from the previous film confronting Dr Loomis at a booksigning.

8th: The Remake (2007)

halloween 2007

After Mustapha Akkad’s death in a terrorist attack, plans for Halloween 9 all but dried up in the mid-00s and, instead, plans for drawn up for a remake as the epidemic of such treatment of known horror titles was squelching through Hollywood like The Blob, destroying everything.

Parts of it work out alright though: Michael’s origin stuff is new material, so isn’t particularly offensive, but when we reach the ‘remake’ bits, the wheels sheer off and roll down the street: Scout Taylor-Compton is horrendous as Laurie, almost the antithesis of everything we loved about Jamie Lee Curtis’ take on the role; Michael is a hulking destroyer of everything in his path and literally none of the victims muster any sympathy.

Best Bit: Needs more thought.

7th: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

halloween 5 1989

One year after the events of Halloween 4, Michael ‘reactivates’ having been looked after my some hermit dude for an entire year (!?), kills this Samaritan, and stalks back to Haddonfield to finish off niece, Jamie. The first hour or so is pretty solid stuff, if too derivative of the last film, but when Jamie is plonked into the Myers house – now a fucking mansion – as bait, it all goes to shit, with the stupid Man in Black subplot a sign of desperation on behalf of the writers.

Best Bit: The party at the olde farm, sex in the barn goes awry courtesy of a pitchfork. Well, at least someone got poked.

6th. Resurrection (2002)

halloween resurrection

Hated by most, strangely liked by me. Deduct Busta Rhymes and his dreadful acting from the equation, take away the fucking stupid rationale for Michael’s survival at the end of H20, and get rid of Laurie’s sudden spiral into simpletonville, and Resurrection is quite a fun little slasher romp. Yeah, so I tend to divorce it from the parent franchise, but the basic stalk n’ slash opus is pretty solid on its own merits.

Best Bit: A party of teens panicking as they guide the final girl by way of one of those PDA things (they didn’t last long, did they?) around the spook house of DEEEEATH!!!

5th: Halloween II (1981)

halloween ii 1981 loomis

A huge step down in quality from the Carpenter classic, that he directed some of the early scenes shows, and those are the only reason it ranks this high. Once the action shifts to the hospital, things get real boring real fast, as nameless, thin-as-a-Disney-popgirl characters are laid to waste, while Donald Pleasence looks for clues and Jamie Lee Curtis looks bored out of her skull taking final girl duties for the 67th time.

Best Bit: The first ten or so minutes as Haddonfield collapses into hysteria following the discovery of the murders.

4th: H20 (1998)

halloween h20

Scream is to thank/blame for this one. Abandoning all mention of films 3-6H20 brought back Laurie Strode as an alcoholic, PTSD-suffering head teacher at a snobby Californian academy, where she battles her demons and her rebellious 17-year-old son. As Halloween rolls around, Michael tracks her down and tries to repeat history. The retconning of the sequels is annoying and the body count too low, but at a slender 83 minutes, H20 still packs a lot in.

Best Bit: Surely the end – the power dynamic reversed: Now Laurie is the one with the sharp weapon.

3rd: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

halloween 6 1995

Yeah, I know. But this was the second Halloween film I saw (back on cable in shortly after it came out), and so my love for it is skewered by my naivety to the tropes of the genre as they stood. Michael returns after a six year hiatus, just as Haddonfield prepares to celebrate Halloween for the first time since his last killing spree. Grown-up Tommy Doyle is a Myers-obsessed weirdo who lives across from the Myers house, inhabited now by relatives of Laurie Strode – and guess who drops in?

Best Bit: A strobe-light infused massacre in an operating theater. Can’t see shit, but turn out the lights and it’s pretty awesome.

2nd: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

halloween 4 1988

After seven years off, during which Friday the 13th notched up six sequels, the Akkad’s decided to bring both Michael Myers and Dr Loomis back from their quite final ending in Halloween II. Ten years on from ‘that night’, federal blah dictates that comatose Myers be moved from his institution and, naturally, he awakes on route, kills everyone, and heads back to Haddonfield, with Loomis merrily chasing him again. This time he’s after Laurie’s orphaned daughter, Jamie, and will kill anyone who crosses his path.

A restrained affair with next to no bloodletting, Dwight H. Little tried to recapture the spirit of the original and, for the most part, succeeds, though things start to drag when it’s all vigilante rednecks and Michael teleporting from ideal hiding spot to ideal hiding spot.

Best Bit: The rooftop chase.

1st: The Original (1978)

halloween 1978

Well, duh. I’ve only ever encountered one person who thinks one of the sequels is better, and he’s clearly a simpleton.

What can be said, apart from: “Hud, why haven’t you reviewed this yet?” It’s just too daunting a task! I’ll do it this year. For Halloween. Maybe.

Best Bit: Eessshhk… How to spring for the best part? Probably the scene where Laurie sees Mikey ducking behind the hedge on her commute from school. Creeptastic.

Smallscreen Scream. Again.

scream tv series season 2SCREAM – THE TV SERIES (SEASON 2)

3 Stars  2016/540m

“Trust nothing.”

Cast: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Carlson Young, Amadeus Serafini, Tracy Middendorf, Kiana Ledé, Santiago Segura, Anthony Ruivivar, Sean Grandillo, Bryan Batt, Austin Highsmith, Bobby Campo, Tom Maden.

Body Count: 8


Unlike a film sequel, writing up notes to the sophomore season of a TV show pivoting on its mystery means that unavoidable spoilers must follow…

Some months after Piper Shaw revealed herself to be the Lakewood Slasher and was killed by the combined efforts of Emma Duval and Audrey Jensen, the former returns to town after mucho therapy in an episode titled I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Of course, there’s the lingering question of who Piper’s accomplice was? We saw Audrey burning letters from her, Noah is still hellbent on finding out who it is, and fascination with The Lakewood Six (them plus Brooke, Jake, and Kieran) ignites as school begins again, with a handful of new students thrust into the mix to be killed or killer.

Unlike Season 1, rather than beginning with a high profile kill (save for a film-in-a-film gag) we have to wait to the end of the episode before the killer strikes, cutting out one of the survivors permanently (it was Jake – yay!!) and tormenting Audrey with the usual mix of calls, notes, and cryptic clues.

scream tv series

Meanwhile, new teacher Miss Lang expresses an interest in Emma; Keiran’s creepy cousin Eli moves to town, and the new sheriff and his intense son, Stavo, are also settling in. Noah is romantically enchanted by smart girl Zoe, much to Audrey’s annoyance, as she runs around trying to stop herself being exposed.

Jake’s disappearance is neatly covered up by the killer and a few episodes tick by with no murders, endangering the show of sinking into a quicksand of boredom. Efforts are made to try and keep things thrilling, but a stupid scene where Emma – walking home alone at night after all she’s been through! – is accosted by a strange car that cruises after her in a creepy slow fashion, only to turn out to be her Dad watching over her. Then there’s her terminally drippy sub-Dawson’s Creek relationship with Keiran, so devoid of passion it makes Twilight look like Deep Throat.

scream tv series brooke

Eventually, Jake’s murder becomes public knowledge and things shunt into gear. Audrey, unable to spin so many plates any longer, confesses to Noah that she brought Piper to Lakewood as part of her documentary of Brandon James (who conveniently has a brother now), and knew she was Emma’s half-sister. This gets back to Emma eventually, they fall out, suspicion everywhere – but the murders continue.

Season 2 learns lessons from the lagging moments of the first year, culminating in some pretty tense final episodes: Noah is buried alive and the girls, now working as two sides of the final girl conundrum (the pretty popular type and the brooding outsider), do their best to save him – though it becomes more of a Crystal Maze puzzle as the killer leaves clues galore to be solved, punishing them both for killing Piper.

scream tv series

Come the end, with the Lakewood Six severely depleted, the young actors get the chance to flex their craft a little now all of them have been touched by death: Audrey’s girlfriend, Emma’s boyfriend, two girlfriends for Noah!, Brooke’s father…

The killer, when revealed, is the logical choice, with the others walking around with Red Herring stamped on their foreheads, and harks back to the original film in a nostalgic way, as it nears it’s twentieth anniversary.

A pending Halloween double-bill special may be the final world on Smallscreen Scream, as there’s little direction to go in from here on – though the Brandon James mystery is wheeled out for more is-it-isn’t-it hysteria, and new secrets are being dreamt up at every turn, but perhaps it’s time for Lakewood to have some peace and move the action somewhere else?

scream tv series

Marginally better than the first season, thanks in large part to upscaled production unities, more confident performances from the cast, and getting shot of Jake nice n’ early. And unlike its nearest competitor, the DOA Scream Queens, at least the main cast aren’t immune to being trimmed where necessary. Take note, Ryan Murphy, a slasher opus requires some actual slashing.

…Something beginning with overrated

my little eye dvd

MY LITTLE EYE

2 Stars  2002/18/92m

“Fear is not knowing. Terror is finding out.”

Director: Marc Evans / Writers: David Hilton & James Watkins / Cast: Laura Regan, Sean C.W. Johnson, Kris Lemche, Jennifer Sky, Stephen O’Reilly, Bradley Cooper, Nick Mennell.

Body Count: 4


Trailers for My Little Eye looked awesome back in the early 00s, and I went to see it around the same time that the similarly-themed Halloween: Resurrection floated to the surface.

Kind of an awkward marriage between parts of The Blair Witch Project and Big Brother - then at the peak of its popularity – five young hopefuls are plonked in a house in the middle of nowhere (a nowhere covered by an inescapable blanket of snow) for six months with the promise of a million dollars each if none of them leave before it’s over.

As they near the end of their stay, the shady producers begin sending stranger and stranger supplies to the house, such as bricks, a gun, a hammer. that prompt the residents to try and delve deeper into the agenda, amped up when a hiker happens by and claims he’s never heard of the show.

They discover they are guinea pigs to a secret circle of sadistic millionaires who want to see live murders and one of them turns out to be a well-placed psycho who’s happy to start doing the rest of them in until whiney heroine Emma takes him on.

my little eye 2002

In synch with hordes of other it’s-real-no-it’s-not slashers including Kolobos and Voyeur.com, a large spoonful of the film is presented via obscure camera angles as the slow build keeps the audience waiting for that mind-blowing revelation… There are a couple of suitably eerie moments on route, but instead of a huge twist, things just peter out with an annoying and bleak twist ending that succeeds only in cementing the hour-long build up as a waste of time.

Biggest mystery: If the whole thing was just an elaborate trap, why wait six months before killing everyone on the same day?

Blurbs-of-interest: Kris Lemche was in Final Destination 3; Nick Mennell was in the Friday the 13th reboot; apparently Bradley Cooper did a few films nobody ever heard of.

Never have I ever…

evertoEVERTO

1 Stars  2016/115m

“It comes with no warning. It needs no reason.”

Director/Writer: Antione McKnight / Writer: Jackie Miller / Cast: Alessandra Spoletini, Allison Schuette, Jonathan Schneider, Dave Madden, Thomas Ouimette, Adam Yoder, Erica Matthews, Sean Demma, Michael Schneider.

Body Count: 6


What a lot of people would think is an upside to writing a blog like this – being asked to review upcoming slasher films and sent a screener – is often a poison chalice… As high-end, well made films don’t often require the assistance of down-and-out, end-of-the-earth horror geek sites, it usually ends up with me thinking how I can break it to the filmmakers that I really didn’t like their movie.

As was the case with Everto, a gruelling almost two-hour endurance test of a project, that features a teen girl tormented by a weird-faced guy with a blade, who can seemingly take on the form of other people and/or do pitch perfect voice imitations, beckoning poor fools into a room where they’ll most certainly be sliced up.

Girl finds her friend dead one night and ends up locked in the house with the body and the killer, who leaves her be. Cops interfere, she and her boyfriend investigate and there’s something about a 40-year-old murder and the fingerprints being the same, blah blah blah.

A film with a body count of six should run about 85 minutes, not 115. It also shouldn’t take 35 minutes for the first horror-related thing to happen. Do we need to listen to people talk about pancakes for seven minutes?

everto1a

While there’s an okay score and the remnants of decent cinematography, it’s drowned and stomped facedown into a puddle of crap by tinny sound and horrifically bad acting: One of the guys seems to be reading from off-screen prompts, talking about his murdered sister with all the emotional resonance of somebody pissed that they got a parking ticket.

It’s a shame, because I’d love to be able to tell someone they’re really onto something good. Everto, unless drastically re-cut, is just too dull and random to cut it.

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